Gregory Maxwell wrote:
On 12/25/05, The Hooded Man
it will, but the foundation will not be able steal credit from
the actual authors of the works in Wikipedia for itself, at least not
without a legal fight. Most quality works in Wikipedia are the work of
a small number of authors per work, not these massively collaborative
efforts as has been misrepresented to the free software foundation.
I think the point is:
1.) Do you think Wikimedia would do this?
2.) They would not be able to do this. A legal fight would be stupid;
database dumps are publicly available that clearly show full author history.
If Wikimedia wanted to steal the articles, they could delete the entire edit
history and remove it from all database dumps. But then people would still
have them. It's impossible for them to do that.
3.) There is nothing that can be legally "stolen". By writing an article,
the authors have released their work under the GFDL.
Let's not get into conspiracy theories.
There is no conspiracy theory needed. You ask "would the foundation do
this", but we need to first be clear on what 'this' means. If
means treating our authors in any way which is unethical today, I
stand firmly that the answer is clearly no. In the future, I can not
answer because my crystal ball is not that powerful. If 'this' means
to work to cause changes to be made to future versions of the licenses
which temporarily increase the foundations ease at the expense at
removing the protection of the authors from unethical actions in the
future, I must answer a resounding yes because it is demonstrably
The Wikimedia foundation has been quietly advocating to the Creative
Commons and the Free Software foundations alterations to further
versions of the appropriate licenses which will allow the operators of
websites such as Wikipedia the authority to permit redistribution of
content submitted to their website with attribution to the site rather
than the author of the content. In effect, the *single* remaining
tangible return an author of freely licensed content receives (their
authorship credit) will be removed and granted to the priesthood of
intellectual property barons who have apparently earned the right to
take credit for the blood and sweat of a world of people because of
their great feat of operating a website.
For the latest in the implementation of this grand vision, take a look
at the terms of the CC-Wiki license, or the mysteriously vague
attribution terms so cowardly sneaked into CC-BY-SA v2.0. These
changes to cc-by-sa could have been implemented as another CC license
flag 'CA' (community attribution) but instead it was decided to
include the changes into the root license with no mention in the
layman version, presumably because such a change would fail to change
the license of existing works against the consent of the authors and
would probably too much attention to this difficult issue. Although
this has not been widely noticed, I certainly am not the only one...
For example see the interesting distribution terms on enwiki
When you start using terms like "mysteriously vague attribution terms so
cowardly sneaked" you lost your ground because by giving it these kind
of attributes you remove room for discussion. If that is your intention,
you moved yourself from [[category:Reasonable]].
There is one fundamental problem that I have with your stance; I do not
understand what you want to achieve and how you want to square that with
the WMF aims. In my opinion the point of these aims is to bring
information to all people in their language. That is the whole reason
why we do this. The important aspect of the license is that is has a
viral aspect. This means that the information that we provide is Free
and remains Free. Typically all articles are the work of multiple
people. It is also true that the only place where you can find reliably
what the contributions are of one person is on his contributions page.
When you are interested in personal glory then Wikipedia is not the
right medium for you. In its history pages, you will find detailed
information on what somebody contributed. This is much more than what
the GFDL requires us to have. It is exceedingly relevant information for
all kinds of purposes.
The argument used to advance this change is that,
somehow, by being
submitted to a collaborative authorship site a document no longer has
authors but is somehow authored by the 'community'. In some cases a
compelling argument can indeed be made that there was no effective
single person author of the work, but even in these cases (which I
contend are rare) it takes a fantastic leap of faith to make the claim
that some organization (non-profit or otherwise) is the sole official
legal voice of the above mentioned ephemeral 'community' of authors
simple because they operate a website which is used by that community.
But, indeed, that is exactly what is being claimed and what is being
swallowed because it's a lot easier to pretend that a website operator
represents the community because the reality of the matter (that the
community is a shifting cloud of unclear membership and
representation) is useless for solving the real challenges presented
by the requirement of preserving something as simple as authorship
credit in the world of paper.
There is again one relevant point that you fail to notice. The WMF does
NOT own any copyright and neither do the licenses argue that the WMF is
the owner of the copyright. This ownership of the copyright is the one
relevant thing. The consequence is that your arguments are NOT about
copyright but about LICENSE. The difference between license and
copyright is that a copyright owner can, when he is the sole owner of
this right of a work, publish this work under a different license as
well. Within our project that is not an option.
The other point is a difference of emphasis. The WMF is about the
publication of information. We have always been willing to have others
do the distribution of this information as well because we want to make
our information as widely available as possible. The changes in the
license are designed to ease the distribution of the content. The
authorship credit is preserved within the Wikimedia Foundation projects
really well. The compulsory attribution provides two things; it points
the way to where faulty information can be amended and it is the place
where authors are credited for EXACTLY what they contributed.
Basically we're reaching a point where silly
details like the moral
obligation to credit the authors of a work are hindering the grand
vision of the knowledge of the world made available to all at the
lowest cost possible. This is a hard problem, so rather than dealing
with it head on, the details are being swept under the rug. Licenses
will and have been retroactively changed to reflect this
prioritization of the quick solution over ethical obligations.
Again, you remove the relevancy of your argument by calling arguments
"silly". The suggestion that these changes are unethical is faulty
because you did not even touch first base; the copyright. Consequently
you are wrong. One thing to realise is, is that the WMF cannot go to
court over copyright or license infringements. It is the copyright
holders read the authors that can.
Normally I would not worry about this, because such
changes which defy
the character of the licenses agreed to by the creators of content
would never stand... but the more I consider the issue the more I
realize how many differing forces will support such changes for both
laudable (in the case of the foundation) and selfish reasons, and it
leaves me feeling unsure and angry.
Feeling angry leaves you in a state where it is hard for you to see the
reason in the arguments on the other side of this equation. That is a shame.